We Stand in Awe

“. . . to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen” (Jude 25).

In Your God is Too Small J. B. Phillips writes, “We have not only to be impressed by the ‘size’ and unlimited power of God, we have to be moved to genuine admiration, respect, if we are ever to worship Him.”

As Paul describes God’s merciful dealings with us, he is overwhelmed at the very thought of it all: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33).

Reverence. Fear. Amazement. Adoration. Gratitude. Love.

A desire to prostrate oneself. A longing to serve. All these are aspects of true worship.

As J. B. Phillips reminds us, worship is possible only when we learn to stand in profound awe of our Creator, the One who provides for us and who desires above all to be our Redeemer and Father.

With hearts attuned to the greatness and goodness of God, we will be more willing to make the necessary self-surrender Paul urges on us: “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

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Adapted from an article by JDG in the daily devotional guide Power for Today

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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What Jesus Saw and What He Did About It

Jesus came inspecting

The place that was supposed to be dedicated to God was being badly abused.

So Jesus took decisive action. “And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things  away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business’” (John 2:14-18).

Obviously, this was not well received by those most affected, and yet as God’s official Representative on earth He had every right to do what He did.

They were wrong; He was right. He always is.

Jesus still comes inspecting!

The physical temple in Jerusalem no longer stands. It served its purpose. But another temple, much more glorious, is His church (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16). Jesus is its cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22). He is its Founder (Matthew 16:18). He is its Head (Colossians 1:18). He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28).

Does He then not have every right to say what His church should be?

If the Jerusalem temple did not pass inspection, what of the church today?

In the last book of the New Testament Jesus has words for seven congregations in the Roman province of Asia. He was very pleased with a couple of them but highly displeased with others. He commands several of them to repent (Revelation 2-3).

This is what Restoration means—making the needed changes Christ requires. He tells several of these churches specific things they must do to get their spiritual house in order. He even threatens two of them with total removal.

Sobering!

After Jesus cleansed the temple, “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Your house will consume Me’” (John 2:17; Psalm 69:9).

Does zeal for God’s house consume us?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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One Man’s Story

A  Christian who had done mission work in South America told me about a man there who picked up a leaflet from the church and liked what he read. He requested a Bible correspondence course, and after completing it asked for someone to visit him.

So the missionary made contact, and during the two hours they studied the Bible together, he would start to quote a verse and the man would finish it. This happened over and over. To say the least, the missionary was amazed.

The man told him he believed everything those passages taught. When asked if he had been immersed for the forgiveness of his sins, he said he had. He then told his story.

Dissatisfied with his religion, he began studying the Bible in earnest—all by himself. As a result he realized his christening as an infant was not scriptural baptism and that his church was not the church of the New Testament.

He approached a religious group that practiced immersion and asked to be baptized, which he was. He was then encouraged to consider himself a member of their group.

“No,” he said, “I am just a Christian.” He did not wish to be aligned with a denomination but yearned instead to be in fellowship with others like himself who were trying to go by the Bible only.

Because his family and friends thought he was crazy, he concluded he must be the only Christian in the world since no one else he knew shared his understanding.

When he finally found the church associated with the missionary, he was thrilled and began worshiping with them.

The missionary told me that as a result of this and other experiences, his own faith was strengthened in the validity of the plea to go back to the Bible and be Christians only.

He and his brethren had always taught that if all that people have is a Bible, and if they study it and do what it says, then they will be Christians only.

The truth-seeker he met was proof of this. He had studied the New Testament and had come to the same conclusions as those who believed in going by the Bible only.

The Restoration Plea is valid!

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Back to the Basics

Examining our traditions

Often we humans tend to make elaborate the simple and to embellish the unadorned. A study of the history of Christian worship bears this out.

Rather than ritual, pomp, and ceremony, early Christian worship was simplicity itself. Often gathering in homes, first-century disciples knew nothing of vested clergy and robed choir, processionals and recessionals, pipe organs and prescribed liturgies.

Various possible reasons could be offered for the development of the “high church” tradition, but how many worshipers have thought to question whether indeed it has a basis in Scripture?

Following the divine pattern

A fresh look into the New Testament reveals the simple nature of the worship of the early church. They partook of unleavened bread and shared the fruit of the vine as they remembered what Jesus did on their behalf (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:23-29).

They prayed together earnestly, and their a cappella singing was an expression of heart-felt praise (Acts 4:23-31; 12:12; 16:25; Ephesians 5:19).

They listened as the word was taught (Acts 14:21-22, 27; 20:7), and they gave liberally as they prospered (2 Corinthians 8:1-5; Philippians 4:15-19).

They were a family of brothers and sisters in Christ, gathering frequently to worship their common Lord, receive instruction and encourage one another (Hebrews 3:12-13; 10:24-25).

Is there any reason why we cannot do the same today?

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What Restoration Means

If anything should have been well-maintained, surely it was God’s temple in Jerusalem.

But King Hezekiah’s forebears had drifted far from God, and the temple showed the dire effects of their apostasy.

Time to set things right!

Hezekiah commanded, “. . . carry the uncleanness out from the holy place. For our fathers have been unfaithful and have done evil in the sight of the LORD . . . . They have also shut the doors of the porch and put out the lamps . . . .

“So the priests went in to the inner part of the house of the LORD to cleanse it, and every unclean thing which they found in the temple of the LORD they brought out to the court of the house of the LORD. Then the Levites received it to carry out to the Kidron Valley.”

Their efforts were two-pronged. First, they removed what should have never been put into the temple. Second, they replaced what should have never been removed.

“. . . all the utensils which King Ahaz had discarded during his reign in his unfaithfulness, we have prepared and consecrated; and behold, they are before the altar of the LORD” (2 Chronicles 29:5-7, 16, 19).

And for us today?

Just as Hezekiah restored the temple to a condition that would once again honor God, so shouldn’t we also be diligent to restore the purity and simplicity Christ desires for His church (Ephesians 5:23-27; Revelation 2:1-7; 3:1-6, 14-22)?

In the New Testament God reveals how He wants His church to be organized, how His people are to worship, what they are to teach, and how they are to live.

Through the centuries, countless unauthorized changes have been made to the divine plan for the church—but could they be called improvements?

Isn’t the call to return to the original divine pattern as needed today as it was in Hezekiah’s?

Are we willing to re-examine our beliefs and practices in light of God’s Word?

The Bible labels Hezekiah’s restoration efforts “these acts of faithfulness” (2 Chronicles 32:1).

May God be able to say the same of us!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Difference-Maker

Twice a day for forty days, the stalemate continued. The Philistines’ pride was Goliath, 9½ feet tall. Fully armed and extremely intimidating, Goliath repeatedly dared Israel to put forward a man to fight him. There were no takers.

Except one

When David the young shepherd arrived on the scene, he heard Goliath’s challenge. His reaction was totally different from everyone else’s: “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?” (1 Samuel 17:26).

When David announced he would take on the giant, King Saul was skeptical. David then cited the times he had successfully killed a lion and a bear that attacked his flock. “The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (v. 37).

When David went out to face Goliath, he said, “. . . I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel . . . . This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands . . . . that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel . . .“ (vv. 45-46).

In a few moments it was all over. Goliath lay prone on the ground, beheaded.

The Philistines fled, with Israel in hot pursuit.

So what made the difference?

Note in David’s statements quoted above he consistently expresses confidence in God.

To Saul’s army, it was Goliath versus Israel. To David, it was Goliath versus God.

And he knew which had the greater Power by far.

We deal today with the same God David did.

Oh, to believe as David did!

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Problem with Complaining

For forty long years God endured Israel’s perpetual complaints in the wilderness. Instead of remembering how God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt, and instead of eagerly anticipating the land of milk and honey God had promised them, they kept grousing about their trials along the way.

In all this they betrayed both their ingratitude and lack of faith in their benevolent Provider.

We’re supposed to learn something from them: how not to be.

“Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction . . .” (1 Corinthians 10:9-11).

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world . . .” (Philippians 2:14-15).

                                                Ode to a Grouch

Grumble, murmur, whine, complain.

Air your grievance; don’t refrain.

“Woe is me!”–yes, sing that song.

Sing it loud and sing it long.

And to make it even worse,

Sing the same song, second verse.

Let them know that you’re upset.

Just make sure they don’t forget.

Keep on griping–don’t be shy.

Bellyache until you die.

But after all is done and said,

Will they miss you when you’re dead?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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